Call for furlough-like scheme for self-isolating workers following outbreaks in food processing factories
Plaid Cymru’s Treasury Spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, has written to the Chancellor to call for greater support for those forced out of work due to localised Covid-19 outbreaks.
In a letter to the Treasury, Mr Lake has urged the UK Government extend similar levels of financial support to those forced out of work due to Coronavirus.
The Plaid MP has made the call following a serious Coronavirus outbreak at a food processing plant in at 2 Sisters in Llangefni, Ynys Mon. So far 158 workers have tested positive. There have been similar outbreaks in food processing plants in Wrexham and Cleckheaton.
Concerns have been raised about staff in the sector, who are often in low-paid work, being forced to make a decision about whether they find work whilst they should be self-isolating in order to make ends meet.
In the letter, Ben Lake MP says:
“Whilst I welcomed the steps the UK Government took to lower the threshold for Statutory Sick Pay, I am concerned that the total payment of £95.85 per week is still not enough for many households the length and breadth of the UK. I note that the inadequacy of this regime was considered in breach of legal obligations by the European Committee of Social Rights in 2018, and therefore request that it is addressed as a matter of urgency.
“The danger posed by inaction is clear, most recently evidenced by the severity of Covid-19 outbreaks in meat processing plants in Ynys Môn, Wrexham and Cleckheaton. While there is need for more research on the relationship between facilities such as these and Covid-19, and that some of those workers in this outbreak will be supported by their employers with full pay, I am concerned that in future outbreaks employers may not be so generous. Should employers not consider this situation as precedent, we face the very real situation where workers in future outbreaks may be forced to conclude that they have no choice but to seek employment immediately elsewhere due to the inadequacy of Statutory Sick Pay.
“Workers in the food processing industry are particularly vulnerable, with a Low Pay Commission (LPC) report last year finding that around 6,700 workers – 11.8% of low-paid employees in food processing jobs – were paid lower than the national living wage. The closure of plants due to local outbreaks of Covid-19 will have a detrimental effect on thousands of families.
“The choice facing these workers is stark. How can a family who may have relied on the income of an individual working at one of these facilities now meet their needs living on less than £100 a week? I fear that the inadequacy of the Statutory Sick Pay scheme is asking individuals to choose between being able to put food on the table for their family, or risk transmitting the virus to others in the community.
“I therefore urge you to extend similar levels of financial support to organisations, and in-turn workers, who find themselves in this situation as that offered by the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme. This would not only deliver further security for those in low-income work from the financial dangers posed by Covid-19, but would give employers and the workforce at large greater confidence as we move forward to more sporadic and localised outbreaks of the virus.”
Education Minister announces ‘back to school’ plans for September
DECISION backed with £29 million to recruit, recover and raise standards
The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, has today confirmed that all pupils will be able to return to school in September.
“plan to open in September with 100% of pupils physically present on school sites, subject to a continuing, steady decline in the presence of COVID-19 in the community.”
The Minister announced that:
- Schools will return to full capacity, with only limited social distancing within contact groups.
- At full operations, a contact group should consist of around 30 children. Some direct or indirect mixing between children in different contact groups will also be unavoidable, such as on transport, receiving specialist teaching or due to staffing constraints.
- Social distancing for adults should remain in line with regulations and guidance.
- Schools will be required to minimise the risk of transmission by taking other mitigating measures using the hierarchy of risk controls.
- Every school should continue to be “Covid Protected” – having carried out risk assessments and mitigated them with a combination of controls such as hand and surface hygiene, one-way systems and so forth.
- If early warning information shows a local incident or outbreak then nearby schools should implement appropriate restriction measures.
- Each school will be provided with a supply of home testing kits.
The Minister confirmed that the autumn term will start on 1 st September and schools that can accommodate all pupils from the start of the term should do so.
The Minister outlined plans just hours after confirming the Welsh Government would make £29m available to ‘recruit, recover and raise standards’ in Welsh schools in response to the impact still felt from the pandemic.
Commenting on the additional funding announced, the Minister added: “We will recruit, recover and continue to raise standards.”
It is thought that there will be around 800 newly qualified teachers in September and around 800 supply staff currently working within Wales.
“With this funding, we will recruit the equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants throughout the next school year.
“We will target extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages.
“The support package, provided at a school level, could include extra coaching support, personalised learning programmes and additional time and resources for exam year pupils.
“We must never lower our expectations for any of our young people, no matter their background.
“Together, we will continue to raise standards for all, reduce the attainment gap and ensure we have a system that is a source of pride and public confidence.”
Councillor Ian Roberts, WLGA Spokesperson for Education, said: “Since schools closed at the start of the crisis, many children and young people have felt anxious about loss of learning and not being able to see their friends.
The Minister’s plan today will enable schools to safely reopen classrooms from September. Local authorities will work closely with their schools to make sure that necessary arrangements are in place to abide by Welsh Government guidance.
“Our schools have been hit by severe disruption during this pandemic, and we welcome the £29m pledged by the Minister for targeted support to minimise the effects of the past few months on pupils. We will continue to work together in partnership the safest and best possible learning experiences for our children and young people, especially in such challenging circumstances.”
Police urge visitors to stay safe and respect Wales as travel ban is lifted
POLICE are urging visitors to say safe and respect Wales as they get set to welcome visitors this weekend.
Dyfed-Powys Police has issued a message to people preparing to travel to mid and west Wales after the requirement to stay local was lifted on Monday (Jul 6), asking them to be safe, sensible and respectful.
With people now able to travel around Wales and to cross the border into the country, coupled with a fine weather forecast, police are expecting visitors to arrive in droves to enjoy the Dyfed-Powys area.
Temporary Chief Inspector Andy Reed said: “We are very lucky to police beautiful areas across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys, which attract thousands of visitors every week over the summer months.
“With restrictions having been in place since March, we understand that people are now keen to venture further afield and enjoy the beaches, mountains and countryside they’ve missed, and are anticipating a busy weekend ahead.
“Our officers look forward to welcoming you, and will be here if you need any help, but we ask that you help us by being respectful of the areas you visit, and by planning your journey before you set off.”
For anyone travelling to areas they are not familiar with, police are recommending that they plan their route in advance, check traffic updates regularly online and by listening to local radio stations, and be prepared to turn around or reroute if necessary.
T/CI Reed said: “Many of the areas that are popular with tourists aren’t served by main roads, but by B roads that can become backlogged very quickly.
“Nobody wants to spend hours stuck in traffic when they could be enjoying a day out, and there are ways to avoid this.
“If you’re heading to the beach in Pembrokeshire, for example, don’t set your sights on one place. Make a list of beaches you could visit, and be prepared to change your plans if you hit traffic off the main road.
“If you’re planning a hike in the Brecon Beacons, take a look at a few different walking routes – there are plenty of options besides Pen y Fan, which frequently gets overrun on sunny weekends and can cause problems on the roads with high volumes of traffic and parked cars.”
Over the past three months, Dyfed-Powys Police has implemented Operation Dovecote – an engagement, encouragement, education and enforcement approach to ensuring people adhered to the restrictions. With the ease in regulations, officers across the force will take a different approach this weekend – engaging with visitors, clamping down on antisocial behaviour and working with partner agencies to ensure places are left as they were found.
T/CI said: “Our officers will be out and about across the force, making sure everyone is staying safe and respectful. With that in mind, we ask that you be mindful of people who live in the areas you are visiting by acting responsibly – we will not tolerate antisocial or illegal behaviour that will impact on them or other tourists.
“Please park considerately, leave gates and property as you find them, be careful with barbecues and don’t light fires, keep dogs under control, and check what facilities will be open before you start your journey.
“We will be working closely with partners to protect beaches, countryside and waterways – you can help us by making sure you take all your rubbish and belongings with you, and leaving no trace of your visit.”
If you need to report an incident while visiting the Dyfed-Powys area, you can use one of the following options: Online: bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Call 101.
If you are Deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.
Always call 999 in an emergency
Ceredigion hometown heroes & lockdown legends sought for 2020 National Lottery Awards
THE National Lottery is searching for your ‘hometown hero’ or ‘lockdown legend’ as part of the 2020 National Lottery Awards.
This year the annual search for the UK’s most popular National Lottery funded projects will, for the first time, honour individuals who have made an extraordinary impact in their community, especially those who have adapted during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
New figures reveal more than £2.8 million of National Lottery funding has been invested in good causes in Ceredigion in 2018/19 alone.
A total of 108 National Lottery grants were awarded in the region during the previous financial year, providing vital support to arts, sports, heritage and community projects.
From today, The National Lottery are calling for nominations of people who have done amazing things with the help of National Lottery funding and are an inspiration to us all.
Winners in each category will receive a £3,000 cash prize for their organisation and a coveted National Lottery Awards trophy.
Jonathan Tuchner from The National Lottery is encouraging the people of Ceredigion to make their nominations.
He said: “The National Lottery continues to have a positive impact on life across the UK. Thanks to National Lottery players thousands of projects are making an incredible difference to their local communities.
Now, more than ever, people have rallied together, and individuals are performing inspirational acts and extraordinary endeavours to help in cities, towns and villages up and down the country.
Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million has been made available to support communities throughout the UK amid the coronavirus crisis. People have used National Lottery funding in amazing ways during these challenging times. We want to honour them as part of this year’s National Lottery Awards and recognise their selfless dedication and thank them for their fantastic work.”
Encompassing all aspects of National Lottery good causes funding, the 2020 National Lottery Awards are seeking to recognise outstanding individuals in the following sectors:
Community / Charity
And there will be a special Young Hero Award for someone under the age of 18 who has gone that extra mile in their organisation. All nominees must work or act for a National Lottery funded organisation or have received National Lottery funding.
To make your nomination for this year’s National Lottery Awards, tweet @LottoGoodCauses with your suggestions or complete an entry form through our website www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards . Entries must be received by midnight on 19th August 2020.
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